Actually you can have 4 on me because I have four Delta ‘Have One on Us’ coupons that I am giving away. Each one is good for one alcoholic beverage or (if allowed) a non-perishable snack, good on Delta or Delta Connection flights where available. One restriction: These coupons expire on 12/31/14.

Delta Have One On Us

If you are interested, just leave a Read More…

Posted by Carol Margolis | 38 Comments

I read this article a few weeks ago but began thinking about it again recently. I visited Bermuda a few months ago and loved almost everything about the island. Though they identify heavily with the British Crown, they are a U.S./Canadian destination mecca. It really is an ideal location for business meetings, situated off the coast of North Carolina. Transiting through their small airport (BDA) is very easy and taxis are abundant.

Bermuda was discovered over 500 years ago with Spanish origins but the first settlers a century later were British. That influence is seen throughout the island, in accent as well as loyalty. It is well established as an international finance center and many major corporations have a presence there because of a very favorable tax environment.

With so much going for Bermuda, why hasn’t it become a darling for meetings? Nice as Bermuda is, there are some downsides.

While flights to BDA are not particularly expensive, most everything else is. Read More…

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

USTravelAsoc

In a study prepared by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), they claim that we currently use less of our vacation time than any other time in the past four decades. Even worse, they claim, this Work Martyr Complex comes at a high price.

The study looks at paid time off (PTO) and, surprisingly, says that the average worker earns 21 days off each year. That is actually over four weeks of paid leave. That sounds high to me, but they say that of these paid days off, we only used around 16 of them last year.

They further conclude that if we just returned to our pre-2000 levels when Americans took 20.3 days of vacation time a year, it would mean 768 million PTO days with a $284 billion impact on the U.S. economy. The addition to U.S. travel spending alone would be $118 billion.

Many employees are allowed to roll over unused accumulated time off but this is not true for everyone. According to USTA, there was a whopping 160 million PTO days that were lost forever last year.

This study got me curious. I sheepishly admit that I probably don’t take more than a few weeks of leave each year. Yes, I try to be home for all holidays, and we do set aside a couple weeks each year for a family vacation, but other extended vacation time just doesn’t seem to typically fit into our time budget. Instead, my husband and I have our meet-ups. For example, one time he met me in Dubai, another time I met him in Hong Kong. And then there was the time we met at the LAX airport, not particularly exciting except that from there we flew together to Sydney. I have never thought of our lives as suffering, at least until I read this USTA study.

But maybe I am all wrong here so I am asking for your help. Is USTA right about this? Do you use all your vacation time?

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

I had high hopes for Apple Pay. I love the convenience and security of not having to worry about carrying around a load of credit cards and the system – along with Google Wallet – are more secure than the cards we are using today. Last week I talked about my disastrous experience trying to use Apple Pay for travel, including two hotels that had no idea what I was talking about. Well, it looks like it won’t be getting any better anytime soon.

As they do very frequently, SmartBrief asked their readers a polling question: Has your hotel adopted the Apple Pay system? The responses say it all.

Apple Pay

Over three-quarters of the respondents said Read More…

Posted by Carol Margolis | 5 Comments

I read online articles about travel regularly, both to keep informed and see if something might be of interest to readers. My search last week brought me to this article. The writer, David Green, wrote about an experience with easyJet that obviously disappointed him greatly. Indeed, he expressed his frustration by writing directly to the airline’s CEO and it was her response that triggered his blog.

A little background: EasyJet is a popular London-based low cost carrier, second in size across the pond only to Ryanair. Combined, these airlines control most of the low cost routes through Europe. Both carriers are notorious for offering very low fares but nickel and diming customers on virtually every little thing. It was one of these ‘nickels and dimes’ that set off the writer.

Apparently Mr. Green agreed to pay an additional 30 quid (sorry, I don’t know how to post a British pound symbol) to bring along a checked suitcase. He was okay with that until he noticed later that his connection to Barcelona might mean his checked bag wouldn’t make the flight. Presumably Green decided to carry on this bag instead so he wanted a refund of the checked bag fee. Much to his surprise, the airline refused. Green says it is not about the money, rather about being ‘fair’ to customers though he acknowledges that the airlines states (“in small print”) that their fees are nonrefundable.

This caught my attention for a couple reasons. Read More…

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

Some who visit BoardingArea travel for business, others for pleasure, but what if you could combine both? What if you could travel to all 50 states, visiting and working, on a honeymoon no less? Well, here’s a couple who is trying to do just that.

Their story may sound familiar to many readers. This is a 22-year-old couple that was kind of bored with their regular jobs and never been outside Texas. Ah, the quest for travel and eternal search for the meaning of life.

Applying 21st Century technology, their plan began with GoFundMe, following up with Snagajob. From there it mushroomed into “Hourly America” and a documentary of their travels (“finding meaning in your work”), picking up some income with freelance writing. Their journey began on June 1st and is expected to end just before Christmas.

People often tell me I am “lucky” because I travel all over the world. Truth is, luck has nothing to do with it. I do this because I choose to. I accept the pitfalls of travel because my focus is on a bigger picture but it began with a plan to match travel with my career path.

That’s exactly what this couple is doing, and living their dream. If you desire anything – travel or otherwise – create a plan and most important, follow through with it. Think about this and join me in wishing this newly married couple safe travels and a successful journey. You will never have it if you don’t try.

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

At its most black or white, airline passengers are either flying for business or pleasure. In reality, there are many shades of gray in between as most fly some combination of both.

Looking at only one of the extremes, Business Travel News recently asked business frequent fliers what was important to them. Not surprising, miles and points did not make the list at all. More surprising, complimentary upgrades and airline lounges also didn’t. Instead, this survey revealed what life up in the air is all about for those survey participants who spend a great deal of their working life up there.

United Airlines

At the top of the list was Read More…

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

In most businesses, employees who travel are allowed to keep their earned frequent flier miles and points. Government jobs can be a little different. Often, agencies require employees to apply their accumulated travel benefits to future government travel. For sure, Santa Clara County in California is one of the latter.

It seems the director of their county child support services, John Vartanian, developed a scheme whereby when traveling, he would put all employee charges on his own personal credit card. That’s for his travels as well as others traveling with him. That way, all the hotel points would be credited to him personally, not to mention the additional points earned from the credit card use itself. Then he ‘neglected’ to turn these points over to his government agency, contrary to policy.

Alas, Vartanian was not caught by a county audit. No, it was revealed by a local TV investigative reporter when a co-worker became suspicious. According to the report, he personally kept all the points for over $55,000 in charges. Last month he was suspended from his job and last week he was fired.

With extreme disappointment, they are leaving BoardingArea readers unsatisfied. Many questions remain but here are a few:

  • Just how many points were earned, and where?
  • Did Mr. Vartanian have elite status with any hotel?
  • What credit card did he use to charge these purchases?
  • Did he take advantage of all the available promotions?
  • Was he skilled at churning cards to max out his points?
  • Did he ever status match to another hotel so he could take advantage of Hotel B’s promos?

Posted by Carol Margolis | 2 Comments

I want to extend a sincere personal apology to all the readers who desired to post comments on my blog but couldn’t. I had no idea the comments part was disabled until I received an email from a reader.

I am not a WordPress expert. I know how to research, put links in articles, and add photos but much of the rest of WordPress escapes me. Sorry, I am still learning and trying but one thing I do know is there is not a simple on/off toggle for comments. With many thanks to BoardingArea (thanks Meagan!), comments are now enabled again.

Once more, my apologies to everyone. It was never my intention to ignore you or delete your comments. I promise to try harder but if you find a fail like this, please let me know. I welcome and read all emails sent to carol at smartwomentravelers.com.

 

 

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

RiteAid CVS Apple PayLast week I wrote about Apple Pay for travel. While it was a general failure for travel, I was pleased to say it worked very well at domestic merchants like McDonald’s and Starbucks. I can also add the drugstore chain Walgreens to the positive list.

Speaking of drugstores, Walgreens competitors CVS and Rite Aid decided they don’t want Apple Pay. No specific reason was given but this article notes that both companies are supporting a rival system known as Merchants Customer Exchange (MCX).

Visiting the MCX website may offer some clues why they are dumping Apple Pay. MCX is a merchant-owned checkout system. In other words, these companies see it as a way to avoid paying fees to Apple and others. The MCX system is actually going to be a downloadable app called CurrentC, available for both Apple and Android. According to the website, it is currently in private testing but is expected to be available to the public next year. No specific date is available.

Like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, this will be a Read More…

Posted by Carol Margolis | One Comment

The Conrad chain, a part of the Hilton family, announced a new”Compliments of Conrad” promotion where you can earn a free night or other benefits.

Stay four or more nights, get a night free. Alternatively, you can choose either a room upgrade or breakfast for two. Those with Hilton Gold or Diamond status would likely choose the Read More…

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

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