Travel Agents Gone Bad

Yesterday, I was reading an article online about a group of ladies who lost a lot of money after booking a trip with an online travel agency. The women booked their travel with the agency in good faith, only to have their money taken and the trip canceled.

The article inspired me to write this blog post. With so many scams out there on the internet, I want to make sure you don’t fall prey.

So before you book your next trip with an online travel agency, make sure you do your homework. With thousands of online travel agents offering travel services via the web, it’s hard to know who to trust.

Here are 5 tips to help you make sure you don’t get burned:

1. Do your homework and check the agency out with the BBB before you pre-pay for travel expenses. If you don’t find the agency in the BBB, Google them! If you find negative information, then that’s your cue that you don’t want to do business with that particular travel agency. Another thing you can do, is ask for references. If you have never dealt with the agency personally and don’t know anyone who has, don’t be afraid to ask the agent for client references or testimonials.

2. Be sure to keep records of payments you make and obtain required documents in advance. Always keep receipts of payments you make to an agency, whether online or offline. If there is ever a discrepancy in payments, at least you have proof of payment. If your agent does not automatically give you a receipt for payment, ask for one. It’s better to be safe, than sorry.

3. Confirm your travel plans directly with your airline, hotel or cruise line prior to departure. This is very important. A travel agent’s job is to book travel on your behalf. Whenever your agent books your travel, he or she is provided with a confirmation number, that number should be provided to you upon request. If not, this is a red flag.

4. Pay with a credit card that offers buyer protection if you do not get what you purchased. If things seem fishy, you can always file a dispute with your credit card company.

5. Consider buying trip insurance to cover unforeseen circumstances that could result in your trip being interrupted or loss of money paid. I always recommend travel insurance to my clients. You spend a lot of money on your vacation, it just makes sense to protect your investment.

Business Travel Agents Tips: A Corporate Travellers’ New York Airports Guide

New York City is one of the most popular key travel destinations for corporate travellers worldwide. The city is the center of much that’s great, dynamic and profitable in America. It is home of one of the world’s principal financial centres (i.e. anchored by Wall Street), and a popular business hub for the publishing and entertainment industry at the same time. So, it’s no surprise it features three airports, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and J. F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). As a frequent corporate traveller you probably may have flown to one of the three New York airports at some point or another. With JFK being a major international gateway to the US, this city guide aims to provide some helpful travel agents tips for corporate travellers flying to or from JFK Airport.

New York JFK Facts & Figures

Located about 25km away from Manhattan in Queens, JFK Airport is the largest airport in the state of New York and one of the busiest business travel hubs (over 50 million travellers/year) in the US and internationally. It has six operating terminals (numbered 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8; terminal 6 was demolished in 2011, Terminal 3 in 2013). Currently, the 4th runway is under redevelopment to comply with the needs of Group VI aircraft (until December 2015 as planned so far), which may cause delays, but measures are in place to minimise them, so you shouldn’t be too much affected. With more than 90 airlines arriving and departing from JFK, various business travel solutions for flights to New York can be arranged. Points of origin and destinations include places within the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Pacific, Australia/New Zealand, basically all over the world. The airport offers corporate travellers a choice of non-stop flights to about 100 international destinations which may prove convenient for your next business trip. However, JFK is very susceptible to weather-related delays due to its position. Corporate travellers are well advised to consider and prepare for possible thunderstorms in summer, causing delays across the US, as well as snow, icing and assorted slush throughout the winter season. For the months between June and November the risk of potential hurricanes is increased.

In general, our business travel agents team advise leisure and corporate travellers to allow plenty of time for getting to and from JFK. Serious traffic incidents on the way between the city and the airport left many wondering whether they’ would be able to make it in time or miss their flight. Furthermore, don’t forget that this is America. Therefore, bear in mind that the TSA rules supreme over security checkpoints. So, take a deep breath and take maybe a book with you or something else to keep you busy. Make sure you arrive early.

Useful JFK terminal facilities for corporate travellers

In most public areas within most terminals, corporate travellers will conveniently find that Wi-Fi is available for free for up to 30min. You can get online near the ticket counters, boarding gates, designated work stations and food courts. The Wi-Fi access is provided by Boingo Wireless Company. If you need to use the internet for longer than 30mins., consider the following options: 1) $4.95 (£3.01, €3.77) per hour (pay as you go), 2) $7.95 (£4.83,€6.05) for unlimited access throughout a 24-hour period (day pass), 3) $9.95 (£6.04,€7.58) per month (unlimited access via a monthly subscription, to be used worldwide), or 4) if you already have a user account, simply log in using your user name and password. ATMs, currency exchange options (Lenlyn or Travelex), a rental phone shop, and more than 100 shops alongside various dining options are available at the terminals.

Ground transportation services from JFK Airport to New York City

The most convenient, stress-free way for travel from and to JFK Airport is to take the AirTrain. It is a cost efficient and helps you make sure you arrive at the airport in time, whilst avoiding possible traffic jams. You can access AirTrain services via the New York City subway system, which is also connected to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). The journey from/to the city takes just over an hour. AirTrain is operated 24 hours on 365 days a year. Within the airport area, it connects terminals and also enables you to easily access car rental services, hotel shuttle areas and parking lots. At peak times the trains depart every 7 minutes and at off-peak times they go every 15 minutes. However, be clever in choosing your business travel route, as various routes make different stops within the airport. Good news for corporate travellers is that travel within the airport is usually free of charge. However, travel outside the airport is subject to a fee. AirTrain prices generally start from $5 (£3.04, €3.81). For more details on ticket prices are provided on the JFK Airport website under costs and tickets. If you travel via New York’s public transport network, then it is a good idea to use MetroCard, which is widely accepted and is worth to purchase for travel via subway, local trains, or buses. You can find vending machines for buying a MetroCard at Howard Beach and Jamaica Station. A good alternative for corporate travellers would be to take a taxi (for up to 4 passengers). Simply wait in the cab line for a licensed and insured cab to take you to your destination (about $52, i.e. about £31.58, €39.59, flat rate between JFK and Manhattan, excluding tips and tolls). The time for this trip should be about an hour. However, it can take much longer during rush hour.

Shared-ride shuttle services are a cheaper option than taxis, but can involve a lot of waiting and being driven around New York City to drop other people off first. You can find a full list of providers on the airport authority’s website. But remember to tip appropriately, as tipping (around 20% of transfer cost) is quite common and keep in mind that bridge/tunnel tolls are not included in the shared-ride shuttle services fares. Another option is to ask your business travel company to arrange a shuttle service for your trip from and to John F. Kennedy International Airport as prices can vary greatly depending on location and number of passengers. In this way you can ensure that you are travelling with a reliable supplier.

An express bus service is also available for a nominal fee from Penn Station (reachable e.g. by AirTrain or taxi). The service operates from early morning to late night, with buses running at least every half hour.

The airport is also home to several car rental agencies. Leisure and corporate travellers can choose between a number of car major rental companies including Advantage, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise, Budget, Hertz, National and Avis.

So, which mode of transport should corporate travellers choose for a trip from JFK to Newark and LaGuardia airports? Usually the best way to get to Newark Airport from JFK Airport is to simply take the AirTrain. However, if you need to travel to LaGuardia during your business trip, it we recommend to take advantage of a convenient shuttle bus service, using the free Route A (running every 10-15 minutes from 4:00am to 11:30pm) or Route B (running every 10-15 minutes from 6:00am to 2:00am). In any case, more details, also for connections to other airports, are available on the JFK Airport Connections page.

Hotels near JFK Airport

Hotel booking services for corporate travellers flying to New York JFK AirportAlthough there are no operating hotels at JFK Airport at the moment, New York provides corporate travellers a huge choice (from budget accommodation to luxury suites) of hotels and motels, which are conveniently located nearby the airport. Most hotel accommodations nearby offer shuttle services. Alternatively you can take the AirTrain to the Federal Circle station and follow the “Courtesy Hotel Shuttles” signs. There are telephone services for the hotel courtesy shuttles located at the AirTrain Federal Circle Station and in the arrival areas of the airport terminals ($5, i.e. about £3.04, €3.81, Service Charge for making reservations). The range of motels and hotels include the Hilton*, the Courtyard* by Marriott, Hampton Inn*, Sheraton*, Hilton Garden, Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Fairfield Inn* by Marriott, Days Inn, Best Western and Howards Johnson. The ones marked by an * are also offering conference and meeting rooms for corporate events.

© Copyright Flightline Travel Management Ltd. All rights reserved. All prices correct at time of publication.

In part two of our New York City Airport guide we’ll provide you with some business travel agents insider tips on Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

Travel and Insurance Policies

Traveling can be an exciting adventure, but it is important to be aware of all travel policies that go along with your trip insurance, hotel reservations, and airline travel. Your trip should be covered for potential accidental events. For this, it is essential you buy travel insurance when making your reservations. Most travel policies include trip cancellations as well as medical situations, and can even help if something is stolen.

Some credit cards have their own policies but only provide coverage if you make the travel arrangements using that particular credit card. Contact your credit card company to see exactly what type of trip insurance they offer so you can determine whether you need supplemental insurance on top of your already-existing coverage. Many airline and cruise companies offer trip insurance for a small fee when you purchase tickets.

Different travel insurance companies offer a variety of policies, so be certain you know what you are buying before laying out money. One additional aspect of travel insurance is a consideration of medical coverage. You should always keep in your possession a full list of what they do and don’t cover in the event of a severe illness or need for a hospital. If you purchase a policy for your entire family, verify that there is not a limit to the number of people covered. There may be a cap on amounts paid out per person as well.

Additionally, read the policy details for stolen property. Many companies have a limit on what they pay for theft, so you may need to buy extra insurance if you have something that is valued at more than the policy limit.

You can purchase travel insurance from your travel agent, over the Internet, or from the companies you work with to book your flight. You can also ask your own insurance company if they can add it to your trip for you.

Finally, circumstances can change and disrupt your departure date. In the end, you may not be able to travel at all – at least not when you had originally planned. Ask your insurance provider to cover the risk of cancellation as well.

By making the effort to do a little investigative work, you can ensure you get the best deal and coverage. When you have adequate insurance coverage for travel, you can leave home confident that your health, the health of your family members, and your possessions are covered.

Plan An Exciting Trip Through International Travel Agents

If you’re considering planning a vacation with international travel agents, you probably have a good idea about where you’d like to go. If you want to head out of the country, planning well in advance is a good idea. There are many things to consider from getting proper vaccines to letting your bank know where you’re going to be. Let’s take a look at the most important things to address before you book your flight and hotel.

1) Make sure your passport or visa is valid. Some countries require one or the other. Also check the entry and exit requirements of the country you’re visiting. For example, some countries will require you to, upon arrival, have proof of lodging accommodations for the duration of your stay.

2) Ask your international travel agents about travel insurance. Most health insurance companies will not cover any emergency medical expenses or illnesses. The cost will usually depend on the length and price of the trip, the age of the travelers, and other variables and options. If you’re on medication, be sure to bring enough for your whole trip plus a little extra just in case.

3) Check the vaccination requirements of the country you’re visiting. Also plan a visit with your physician. You might need to get a series of shots, which will require giving yourself plenty of time to space them out.

4) If you’re traveling with a pet, you’ll likely need a health certificate. Typically these are required within a certain number of days before travel. Also check to see if the country requires a special vaccine or quarantine upon arrival. If the laws are too restrictive, you might want to leave your critter at home or a local boarding facility.

5) Every country has customs requirements. These regulate how many items you can come home with in the way of products and purchases. The U.S. additionally has particular laws on what you cannot return to the states with.

6) Get familiar with the currency exchange rate so you will know exactly how far your dollar will go. There are apps you can download to your smartphone that can make conversions relatively quick and painless.

7) If you’re taking electronic devices like a hair dryer or laptop, you’ll need an outlet converter or adapter to adjust the shape and electrical current of the outlets. These can usually be purchased at home improvement or hardware stores and are relatively inexpensive.

8) Check the weather conditions with your international travel agents before traveling. Just because it’s summer in the states doesn’t mean it’s going to be warm where you’re headed. Pack and dress appropriately.

9) Investigate the state of your destination. Is the country stable? Are there riots going on? Make sure the country you are visiting is safe for tourists.

10) Conduct appropriate research on the country to where you’re headed. Learn about the customs. If they speak a different language, try to learn some simple phrases like, “Do you speak English?” or “Where can I get something to eat?”

If you keep these things in mind and plan ahead, you should be prepared for a rewarding, stress-free vacation.