Many of TravelPlex’s clients ask us on a regular basis for the latest General Services Administration (GSA) per diems. The 2018 GSA guidelines were just released, and will go into effect October 1st. The 2018 new per diems are showing a slight bump in the daily price allowed.

We at TravelPlex have been predicting stricter hotel cancelation penalties for almost a year. Hotels have been warning travelers if they continue to book last minute rooms on web sites, they will impose penalties that will end up costing the traveler more than any savings possibly earned.

Hilton Hotels will begin charging a penalty for reservations canceled within 48 hours of hotel stays at properties in the U.S. and Canada beginning August 1, 2017. Marriott International released the same policy and began enforcing it in June. The fact that Marriott introduced this policy to its more than 5,700 hotels companywide, and that Hilton has mimicked the policy, has created industrywide concern that the hotel industry will adopt these penalties the same way the airlines do now.

The past few months, we here at TravelPlex have been asked quite often as to the status of Missouri driver’s licenses and whether the REAL ID Act will be an issue for Missouri residents. We have been monitoring the progress in Jefferson City every day.

Well, it finally paid off. Last night (June 12th), Gov. Eric Greitens signed into law legislation bringing Missouri driver’s licenses and identification cards in line with Department of Homeland standards. This paves the way for Missouri’s IDs to be accepted at United States airports, military bases and other federal facilities.

The past few months, we here at TravelPlex have been asked quite often as to the status of Missouri driver’s licenses and whether the REAL ID Act will be an issue for Missouri residents. While we are monitoring what is going on in Jefferson City, we have yet to hear anything definitive on the final signing of the bill. We do know that the bill designed to ensure Missourians will not be denied access to airport TSA security checkpoints and federal buildings is currently sitting on the Governor’s desk.

TravelPlex's President, John Heimburger (who is also the St Louis Area Chapter President for ASTA) along with many of the ASTA members from around the State of Missouri, have been working with lawmakers to ensure this gets signed into law.

In this blog, we will provide some information on items you may – or may not - be aware of. While these facts may be interesting, they may also cause one to pause the next time they want to use that fold down tray it front of them. In no order, here are some rare facts that the airlines don’t want you to know.

Our last blog - “What? I CAN Be Bumped From My Flight?” – must have hit a chord with our readers. Granted, it was on the heels of the United Airlines incident, but that blog received five times more hits than the previous blogs.

As a follow-up to that article, we wanted to provide you with more information on how you can prevent yourself from being bumped from an airline flight.

If you have been in Europe, Asia, or living under a rock in the past week, you may not have heard the latest travel buzz. Here you go. It seems a United Airlines passenger flying from Chicago to Louisville was literally dragged off a plane. Using the words from the airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, the man – and three other travelers - were “re-accommodated” in order that four United Airlines employees could fly to Louisville.

As you can imagine, we at TravelPlex have been asked in the last few days by many clients if such a scenario can actually occur to them. Does the fact that they have purchased a ticket guarantee that they will have a seat on that flight?

Many times TravelPlex is asked about travel per diems (car, hotel and food/beverage) for their travelers and how they can incorporate these values into their travel policy. While each company maintains an inimitable culture and objectives, there are ways to arrange per diems into a travel policy. Remember, the better the travel policy, the greater the travel savings.

We wanted to alert you to some news that has just been announced. Effective immediately, the U.S. government has issued an order banning large electronic devices from cabin baggage on passenger flights from 10 departure cities in eight countries. The departure cities impacted are:

  1. CMN - Mohammed V International, Casablanca, Morocco
  2. IST - Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
  3. CAI - Cairo International Airport, Egypt
  4. AMM - Queen Alia International, Amman, Jordan
  5. JED - King Abdul-Aziz International, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  6. RUH - King Khalid International, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  7. KWI - Kuwait International Airport
  8. DOH - Hamad International, Doha, Qatar
  9. AUH - Abu Dhabi International, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
  10. DXB - Dubai International, United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Click the Read More link to learn which airlines have been affected by the new travel rules and what you need to know about them.

Every year, we at TravelPlex like to offer our readers with a list of top summer destinations since this is THE time to travel with families, couples – young and old, and independent explorers. The response to our destination advice has been very positive, and we have been asked by many of our readers to make this a quarterly topic. So, at the request of our readers and clients, we would like to present TravelPlex’s list of top summer destinations for 2017. Immediately following our suggestions, you will find USA Today’s suggestions. Some are duplicate ideas, but they are all great.

Remember, if TravelPlex can assist in your plans, we would love to help. Also, unlike web sites, we can offer lower prices, service before AND after your trip, and, many times, provide upgrades unavailable on the Internet. It never hurts to find out how much we can save you over the Internet “deals”.

So, with no further ado, and with help from a number of TravelPlex leisure counselors, we would like to present our top summer getaways.

If you’re a dedicated reader of these blogs (OK, Mom, I’ll include you as well), you’ve seen several articles in the past few months about the “Big Three” airlines’ (American, Delta and United) new marketing approach of offering “extra” low fares.

To provide a brief history of these new fares . . . they were actually torn from the playbook of the ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit and their stripped-down airfares. You know, the airline that almost all corporate travelers loathe. Spirit Airlines offers extra-cheap ticket prices with few perks and plenty of restrictions that force travelers to pay extra for seat assignments, carry-on bags, and so on and so on. It’s a business model that business flyers love to hate, but one that has made Spirit Airlines very profitable, as well as a darling of Wall Street.

Click on the 'Read More' link to learn TravelPlex's policy regarding these fares.

We at TravelPlex want to alert you to a change in the process of booking a Southwest Airlines ticket in Concur Travel. While this will not affect reservations until May, many travelers book their travel well in advance, and this could / will affect these travelers. Please read below the changes that travelers booking Southwest in the Concur Travel tool could incur: 

Southwest Airlines is migrating their reservation system from their existing Sabre-based platform to an Amadeus platform. Concur has worked diligently with Southwest for the last 6 months on migration testing to keep the level of disruptions for clients to a minimum.

The migration will impact the direct connection to Concur Travel for any bookings that traverse the migration cutover date. Southwest has announced that the final cutover date will be May 9th, 2017.

Business fliers have adjusted to many airline fees. Baggage fees; upgrades; advance boarding and Wi-Fi are all additional fees business travelers have grown to accept. There are others, however, where one must wonder who came up with the concept of the fee, and how.

TravelPlex likes to keep our clients apprised of all the new and exciting things going on in the travel business. While this blog offers neither, it is intended to advise you that another airline is playing copycat to what United began, and Delta Airlines followed, late last year. 

Effective February 10th, American Airlines will replicate the other two legacy carriers' decision to offer a “lower fare” to consumers. Like the other two carriers, these fares are not so much lower price wise, as they are extremely restrictive and very unfriendly to the business traveler.

As you may recall, almost a year ago the REAL ID Act issue was in the news. In fact, for those of you holding a Missouri driver’s license, this information really affected you. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is poised to stop recognizing Missouri driver’s licenses as proof of identification for government operated facilities. Since airports are considered a government operated facility, the TSA can prevent travelers with Missouri driver’s licenses from entering the secured gates of an airport. The primary reason; Missouri and Maine are the only states that have driver’s licenses that do not conform to security features that contain machine-readable data chips.

Unfortunately, as we enter 2017, nothing has changed. Effective next year, January 17th, 2018, Missourians could be denied admittance to airports for domestic flights. For those travelers boarding international flights, passports are required, so access will be allowed. This means, as of now, in order to board a domestic flight next year, those with Missouri or Maine driver’s licenses will need to prove their citizenship with a United States passport.

We at TravelPlex are often asked for assistance in either creating a company’s travel policy, or at the very least, updating it. This is one of the many services TravelPlex offers our travel partners. Recently, we have been asked about how to dovetail a travel policy into an expense policy, and what that might look like as a finished product.

While we don’t want to take the space (nor bore you) with more talk about an effective travel policy, we thought we would offer some tips on creating an effective expense policy. Now, keep in mind this is basic and, as we say, a “30,000-foot view”, but we hope it will include some ideas for those of you tackling the daunting – but needed - task of creating an expense policy from scratch.