If there is one constant in TravelPlex’s blogs, it’s trying to alert the traveling public of any dangers that may await them on their next trip. While we don’t want to be alarmists, there are security and safety concerns travelers need to be aware of. This week we are again addressing airport Wi-Fi and the extreme lack of security.

A recent study of airport wi-fi systems showed that travelers logging on to these networks are extremely vulnerable.

Signs of discontent with the sharing economy are beginning to surface among travelers as a growing number of unsatisfactory experiences has come to light. Misrepresentation of product or service offerings, a lack of host accountability and sometimes compromised review processes are a few of the factors contributing to a growing public apprehension.

For all of you road warriors, a phone app that coordinates all your travel data is not so much a luxury as it is a necessity. For those of you using the Concur Travel tool, we hope you have the TripIt app downloaded on your phone. The basic version is free, but for $49 a year, TripIt Pro offers travelers real-time flights alerts; fare refund notifications; tracks reward program points; alerts you to any travel delays / gate changes, and much more.

And a new service was just announced, TripIt Pro users now have access to safety ratings for nearly 30,000 neighborhoods around the world.

If you’ve been watching the incredible vacation deals for this summer and fall like I have, you’ll notice some vacations that are hard to pass up. While these are great opportunities, there is one thing that could prevent you from travelling. An expired passport. Well, not technically expired. Most people do not realize that some countries will not allow you into their country if your passport will expire within three to six months of your date of entry.

Every year, numerous research companies around the world publish their “top” lists. Top Airline. Top Hotel Chain. Top Rental Car Company. Top... well, you get it. It seems every airport, airline and hotel are at least in the top five of someone’s list. The exact science used in culminating these “Top” lists is a bit nebulous, and if you inquire as to the reporting metrics used, you will receive as varied a response as the registers themselves deliver.

Nonetheless, these opinions are rather fun to view. The accent of the research company often times dictates who they place in their “Top” lists. Research companies in the US are usually bullish on New York, Atlanta and Chicago. Research firms with European accents migrate to companies based on their continent. While this “homer” mentality is nothing new, it is the fuel for interesting debates.

If you’ve ever rented a car, you’ve probably walked away wondering how the reasonable base price turned into an exorbitant bill, weighty with extra fees. Here's an outline of some of the more common fees to expect when renting a car.

Besides understandable local and state taxes, the three most common rental car fees are:

Southwest Airlines has canceled 40 flights a day since they announced their voluntary inspection program following a deadly accident aboard a plane that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

"The 40 cancellations today (Sunday, April 22nd) are due to aircraft being out of service for our accelerated engine fan blade inspection program, which we announced on Tuesday night," Southwest said in their statement.

Many times we at TravelPlex are asked by corporate clients about the current travel per diems (car, hotel and food/beverage). The question is fueled with the intent of incorporating the values into their travel policy. While each company maintains a unique culture and objectives, there are ways to position per diems into a travel policy and make them work for everyone.

The more defined a travel policy, the greater the travel savings. That said, we want to pass along Business Travel News 2018 Travel Per Diems, including both domestic and international per diems.

During a recent flight, I was served what – to the eye - looked like a delicious meal. A chicken breast with a cranberry-raisin-wine sauce; green beans tied with a strip of thin bacon; rice medley and a sourdough roll. The “icing on the cake” was actually cheese cake. Now, I may not have done the meal justice with my description, but it looked great and I was anxious to enjoy this airline culinary offering. However…

As I began tasting the food, it was, shall I say, not that great. It looked amazing, but the food was rather bland. It was then that a memory bulb popped in my head and I recalled hearing something about food tasting differently at 30,000+ feet. Could it be true?

In the past few months we've received calls from people who are interested in traveling to Mexico but are concerned about the various travel advisories they've heard or read about. We feel some of these advisories have resulted in a good deal of misunderstanding about travel safety in Mexico and need to be put in their proper context.

Mexico's Secretary of Tourism, Enrique de la Madrid, provides an interesting perspective on the travel alerts.

Before we go any further, this article is not meant to be a scary warning piece. This is intended only as an informational article to make you aware of an issue that could affect you or your company. If you or someone you know has made a reservation directly with an airline, the following could be of interest to you…

An article by Mitra Sorrells of Travel Weekly uncovers an issue that most travelers have no knowledge of. Malicious bots are stealing data, and content, from airlines websites. A lot of data.

TravelPlex likes to keep our travelers up to date on travel issues. Usually these are slanted toward corporate travel, but because of the overlap on this issue, we thought it best to alert everyone of this news. This is just one more reason why most corporations forbid booking business travel on Internet travel companies.

Online travel agency Orbitz believes their site has been hacked and personal data of as many as 900,000 customers has been leaked.

Often times we at TravelPlex will be asked advice from a traveler about whether they should pay the extra $10 to $50 airline fee for a better seat. It always seems that after you buy the ticket, the airlines want to plop you into a less than coveted middle seat. The very real rationale is that they’ll find enough business travelers who really don’t care about paying an extra $25 to $50 for a good aisle or window seat.

Robert Silk of Travel Weekly wrote a very good article at how to win at the great airline seat assignment game. In his article, he highlights ways to beat the airlines at their own game. 

TravelPlex Travel & Cruise, with 2 retail locations in St. Louis was awarded the prestigious Crystal Apple Award from tour operator Apple Vacations, the leading name in all-inclusive vacations to beach destinations throughout Mexico, the Caribbean and Central/South America, as well as vacation packages to the Hawaiian Islands.

Crystal Apple travel agencies are the top sellers of Apple Vacations packages in their region and receive extra benefits with Apple Vacations...

Many Missourians who travel via airline have been a bit nervous regarding the federal Real ID requirements. The U.S. state driver's licenses that comply can be used to pass through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints. All but three states, Louisiana, Michigan and New York and a few U.S. territories, have either achieved compliance or have been granted an extension for that deadline.

The TSA lists 27 states as compliant with Real ID requirements, meaning travelers can use their current state issued drivers licenses at airport TSA checkpoints.

It was announced in May that software giant SAP purchased Concur Expense and Travel, and that Concur would be integrated into SAP’s offerings.

Effective in the next few days, Concur will be rebranded SAP Concur and the conversion will begin.