Monthly Archives: November 2012

5 Things You Need to Know Before Booking Chauffeured Car Service

Los-Angeles-Chauffeured-service

Chauffeured Limo Service 101

Chauffeured car service can be both convenient and elegant.  Whether you’re pulling up to An exclusive Hollywood premiere or using airport car service, it’s often the preferred way to get around town. If you are going to rent a limo for the first time or even if you’re a seasoned car service veteran there are always details your limo service should make clear to you. The following covers 5 key questions you should always make sure to ask your Chauffeured car service provider.

When Will I be paying for my Chauffeured Car Service?

If you’re renting a Los Angeles Limo on a budget, getting a straight answer is crucial. The question is actually a two sided coin; let’s get the skinny on both. Find out if your car service does point-to-point or hourly/garage-to-garage billing. Depending on the type of service you’ll need, the answer will determine how you will be billed and help you to avoid having to pay a penny more than you need to.

Additionally, does the limo service demand payment in full or a deposit at the time of booking? Do you pay the full balance upfront at the beginning of the trip? Find out exactly when they’ll be putting charges on your card.

Is There an Hourly Minimum?

For client directed hourly trips, many LA Limo services charge a minimum number of hours-it’s usually around 2 to 4. If you’re just need to book airport car service, let your reservationist know that you require point-to-point service, which traditionally won’t have a minimum amount of hours attached.

Can I Get in Touch with My Chauffeur?

If you’re scheduling a pre-arranged pick-up, you’ll want to know how you can get in touch with your Chauffeur. Request their cell phone number ahead of time, as this is often helpful to have before during and after the trip.  Take advantage of any on-board communication too. If you’re going to rent a hummer limo, for Example see how you can communicate with your chauffeur during the trip. Are there intercom systems mounted in the vehicle in case you have any burning questions en route to your destination?

Is Alcohol Allowed In The Limo?

If you and your party are 21 years or older, most likely you’ll be fine consuming alcohol in the back of the limo. Ask ahead to make sure the limo comes with a full wet mini-bar. Some Los Angeles limo services have mini bars that rival that of many luxury hotel rooms.

Parents who plan to rent a limo for prom or any other event with minors should ask about the company’s policy regarding underage drinking. Great limousine companies often have a bag search protocol prior to boarding-this gives a measure of assurance and safety.

What Amenities Are Included With My Chauffeured Limo Service?

Ask what additional amenities are included with your limo rental. Will they have an AV package? Does it come with stereo surround sound, a CD Player, iPod connections? Why shouldn’t you enjoy your custom playlist during the ride? Additionally, see if they provide complimentary champagne or red carpet service for wedding limo packages. Ask about glass stem-ware, seating capacity and arrangement and anything additional provided with the service.

How Long Can We Party?

If you and your guests are having the time of your lives and you just don’t want the party to stop, you should be able to extend your reservation. The Likelihood of extending your limo service will be higher if your trip is the last scheduled reservation of the day. Be sure to inquire about policies and protocol ahead of time. There is often a higher cost for last-minute requests. If you’re unsure about the time window time your party will need, try and  book a longer window of time to avert any last-minute changes in billing or the off chance that the limousine won’t be able to accommodate your request. 

Is Chauffeur tip Included?

Chauffeurs often live off of their tips and many Los Angeles limo services have a policy of adding 20% to the invoice at the time of the initial booking, a practice known as “all-in pricing”. Make sure the price you get includes all additional add ons and ask for an explanation of each.

 

Special Thanks: John Kragh
Image: neogaff.com

How to Deal With Rude Airline Employees

Air Travel Survival

There’s been a lot of recent news coverage surrounding bad attitudes at the airport: flight attendants getting confrontational, gate agents having mental meltdowns, ticket agents who won’t move a finger for you. It seems that airline employees are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. Is anyone really that shocked?

Changes in Airline Personnel

Airline employees have been dragged around quite a bit in recently. Management has leveraged their unions, reduced the zeros in their paychecks, cut their pensions, rearranged  work protocol, slashed personnel and even hidden behind bankruptcy protection.  Yet airlines have found a way to bathe CEOs and top brass in bonuses. Just pay close attention at LAX or JFK airport during the peak flight hours. You’ll find employees performing the functions of their jobs, but their spirit is broken.

It’s not that there aren’t any compassionate or competent airline employees around anymore, but they are few and far between. Chances are, the next time you fly, you’ll find one out of every three employees in a crabby mood or with a less than shining attitude. I wouldn’t accept it, but I can empathize with it and I understand the traveler’s pain as well.

Here are a few tips for dealing with airline employees with bad attitudes:

 

  1. Approach Cautiously: If the first thing to come out of your mouth is something to the effect of, “Could this airline mess up my trip anymore?” you are probably not going to get the most stellar service.
  2. Situational Awareness: Take a second to empathize with what the employee is experiencing at the time you approach her. Are they getting berated by another passenger? Is there a delay that is beyond their control? Is the airline clearly understaffed for this Particular flight? Give them a modicum of understanding.  More understanding is really what the world needs now.
  3. Hands Off: You might mean it as a simple gesture to get the agent’s attention, but nobody likes getting groped or poked by a stranger, and most will take it the wrong way.
  4. Keep Your Voice Down: The easiest way to get a poor response is to shout at an airline employee. They will instantly put their guard up, and many of them will refuse you any further help or service
  5. Tone Down Your Language: The minute you start with any obscenities your cause is lost. What is guaranteed to happened is that the agent will shut down in a very calm manner and then refuse any further help.  The other scenario will have them dishing it right back at you-and then refusing any further service.
  6. Kill Them With Kindness: If you are exceedingly nice to a rude person, sometimes you can disarm them-even improve their attitude. Besides, lowering yourself to their level of crassness is beneath you right?
  7. Be Selective: If you see that one employee seems grumpier than the others, go to the more agreeable one. Why set yourself up for an uncomfortable situation?
  8. Get a witness: If you are subject to extremely abusive behavior, ask someone who witnessed it to back up your story. Get a brief statement in writing if you can, along with a signature.
  9. Remain Calm: In a calm, metered tone ask nicely to speak with a supervisor, manager or a higher up. Nine times out of ten that will bring swift results and end the abuse. Whatever you do, don’t make a scene at the airport.
  10. Taking Formal Action: If you plan to file a formal complaint, get the agents name and employee number, along with the contact info of any witnesses. Draft a letter of complaint and reread it before you print it-time provides great perspective.  Be detailed in your letter.  If the airline gets a high number of complaint letters, sanctions will be taken against the employee.

Airline employees have had a rough time as of late and are less resilient to abuse than before.  Honestly, the majority of complaints most business travelers share with me have very little to do with the actual airline employees; Delays, foul weather and smelly seat mates are often beyond their control.  During the course of your travels, practicing a bit of smart empathy may eventually get you where you need to go that much smoother.



Special thanks: James  Wysong
Image: tecca.com

What’s In my bag: 5 Chauffeur Accessories We Can’t Live Without

Chauffeurs-essentials-1

Chauffeurs Are Not Built In a Day

Finding a driver is easy.  Turning that driver into a professional chauffeur is hard.  Growing a successful car service depends on the chauffeur communicating the vision and tone of the company out in the field.  After twenty years in the Los Angeles Limo industry and after spending some time behind the wheel myself, I’ve noticed a pattern of unique challenges a chauffeur can face. Some of these include: Personal Hygiene and Presentation, Attire, smoking, eating and drinking, Driving standards and Resting/sleeping in the car

While we can’t expect a chauffeur to be on point 100% of the time, there are some tools and tricks that can help him stay at 99% and overcome some of the unique challenges he may face in the field

Shout® Wipeschauffeured-service-accessories

Single serving packaged, portable and designed for one time use, these handy stain wipes can be a lifesaver for a chauffeur in the field.  These wipes are amazingly stain-absorbent and pretty much lift any sediment, dirt or stains off of ties, shirts and suit cuffs.  They even seem to do the trick on carpet and auto interiors too!

 

Kiwi Express Shine™ Spongeexecutive-car-service-essentials

It is common knowledge that one of the first things a client notices about chauffeurs are their shoes. These travel shoe shine sponges are the ideal accessory for a quick fix to minor scuffs on shoe leather.  They feature a unique self-wicking Clear shine liquid that gives a clean fresh shine every time. There’s even a hint of Color embedded in the sponge to cover up any unsightly nicks and scrapes No buffing necessary!

 

Zero Odor lax-limo-service-items

Zero Odor claims to be the first product “that eliminates odor at the molecular level”.  Whatever is in this stuff it works!  While air freshener and car scents tend to mask odors, Zero Odor seems to zap them at a core level.  Right after I sprayed it for the first time it left behind this odd, bleachy “tracer scent” However, after a few moments that scent was gone, leaving behind a neutral smelling clean space of air. I suggest keeping a 4 oz. bottle of this stuff in the limo at all times.

  

 Mac Wipessedan-service-wipes

The verdict is out-skin cleansing wipes are no longer just for women.  There’s nothing worse than having a greasy,unkempt driver show up.  In the chauffeured service industry cleanliness is next to godliness.  That’s why some of our chauffeurs swear by these MAC wipes.  A chauffeur often has limited resources when it comes to freshening up.  The MAC wipe makes use of a “sugar based emulsifier” that breaks down facial oil and built up grime.  They are extremely refreshing and seem to keep many of our chauffeurs awake and alert during those long shifts on the road

 

Colgate® Wisp® Car-service-must-haves

These single serving mini-toothbrushes are actually comprised of a soft plastic spindle with suave cleaning bristles on one end and a soft pick on the other.  As you brush, there’s a “freshening bead” designed to dissolve in your mouth and is safe to swallow.  This is a great tool for Chauffeurs that smoke or for those that can’t stay away from onions during their lunch break!

An EA’s Guide to Surviving the Office Cubicle

Executive Assistant Office Spaceadministrative assistan booking car service

Executive assistants often take charge of many tasks at once.  More often than not, the majority of their time is spent in one place-The cubicle.  Repetitive stress coupled with a er, how should I put this, non-ergonomical work space can take it’s toll.  Here’s a no-nonsense guide guaranteed to help these unsung corporate heroes make the most of their time in The Cubicle

 

  1. Location Location Location:Choose a cube as far away from main corridors, restrooms, supply rooms, and other high-traffic locations, if the choice is yours . Stay away from cubes that are in the boss’s direct line of sight.
  2. Use Comfort Tech Gadgets: Find the comfiest  chair availabe, or liberate one from a vacant cubicle or office (some types of chairs may be given only to employees of a certain rank, so borrow cautiously). As an alternate method get a certified  doctor’s note officialy certifying that you need a comfortable chair for medical reasons—your employer WILL provide you with one. A back pillow and footrest pay in dividends. Stay away from hammocks, love seats or recliners!
  3. Make Use of Convenience Accessories: A Bluetooth headset will afford you an increased range of motion. Noise-cancelling headphones (with an extended cord) can get rid of external distractions. A mini- fan has been known to filter out annoying noises such as loud phone conversations and typing racket. (The fan will also challenge nosy co-workers from eavesdropping in on confidential conversations)
  4. Personalize Your Territory: Let your internal interior decorator come out here.  Adorn your cubicle with photos of family and friends, even your kids  drawings.  Some Executive Assistants swear that having personally meaningful pictures or other homey items have gotten them throught the toughest of days. Don’t over-do it or your cubicle could turn into a dorm room or billboard.
  5. Build Vertically: There are usually fewer to limits to using vertical space than horizontal. Stack invoice trays on top of elevated surfaces to clear up more horizontal room. Rolodexes, Tape Rollers, and Staplers that usually take up precious desk space can be hung vertically to open up and maximize horizontal desk real estate and create a clean and spacious feel.
  6. Mirror Mirror: Mount  a large mirror on the cube wall – this will give the illusion of more space.                                                                        

Caution

  • Health and safety ordinance codes prohibit cubicles from having roofs. Do not attempt to recreate privacy by fully enclosing your cubicle
  • Placing a discreet, stick-on wide-angle mirror to the frame of your  computer let’s you see anyone trying to peer into your cubicle from behind.
  • Notify your boss that you would like a “double-wide” cubicle when one opens up. Standard cubes measure 8 by 8 feet and 4 to 6 feet high—double-wides give you twice the real estate of standard cublices, plus an L- or U-shaped desk. The double-wide cubicle does pose some risk: If office space needs to be ‘consolidated’ you may find yourself with a cube-mate, a situation you would like to avoid
special thanks: Courtney Daniels
image: amazon.com still from movie "Office Space"

8 Executive Travel Tips for Car Service Clients

military field guide

Business Travel Survival

It’s the height of holiday and business travel season.  Chances are that you’ll be taking planes trains and using car service during your Journey.  While many business travelers are urged to take a moment to relax; most will just soldier on. Travel related stress can take a cumulative toll.  All the small snags and snafus can add up.

Here’s a survival guide to attack the most common travel related stress scenarios that occur during executive travel. 

Restroom Recon: If you’re in a hurry to find a restroom, head to the nearest large hotel. Most hotels have bathrooms on or near the lobby floor that are traditionally kept clean.

Recuperative Efforts: Department stores are ideal locations to quickly freshen up or reapply makeup. Just head over to the cosmetic sample counters and you’ll find a veritable anthology of lipstick, makeup, and perfume at your disposal.

Airport Car Service: When exiting your Limo, be mindful to leave your door ajar while your luggage is being retrieved out of the trunk; that way the Town Car service can’t take off before you get your luggage out.

Baggage Distinction: Give each piece of your baggage an unmistakable look—tie a scarf to a handle or invest in a bright hued luggage tag. Luggage can be hard to tell apart, and even though you can probably figure it out, not all business travelers are as savvy as you are.

Attacking Wrinkles: Take advantage of those thin plastic dry-cleaning bags by putting them between delicate articles of clothing- this will prevent most wrinkling. Pack precious and smaller items in zip-lock bags avoid further crinkling

Ditch Equipment-Specific Bags:  A diaper bag has fewer chances of being snagged, than an expensive looking pelican case If you’re bringing any valuable electronics with you this travel season (such as macbooks, ipads, camcorders, or photo gear), think about  organizing them in a diaper or baby bag instead of those techy and conspicuous  cases designed for them. Diaper bags have plenty of handy compartments for storage

Free up More Space: If you’re suitcase feels maxed out, squeeze out the last bit of space. Zip up your baggage and drop it a couple of times on the ground.  What you’re doing is compressing the contents as much as you can, and freeing up more room.

False Wallet: Make a “mugger’s wallet” This will be comprised of a small amount of cash along with some type of photo ID (not your Passport or driver’s license) and supplemental, but replaceable, cards-to give it some weight. Take this wallet for your day to day journeys, but be ready to give it up  it in an emergency. Keep this throw-away wallet in your front pocket, and surround it with a rubber band. You will instantly sense any effort to remove it.

 

 image: Barnesandnoble.com
special thanks: courtney Daniels

How To Zip Through Airport Security – FAST!

Fly Through Security Checkpoints

A handful of seasoned business travelers have figured out methods to deal with the TSA’s security snags.  Most of them are valued Los Angeles Limo passengers of ours and frequent executive travelers

For many of us, it is still a cumbersome and often intimidating thing when it comes to airport security. Here are a few tips and tricks to make your air travesl a breeze:

Think Like a TSA Agentvacum space bag

First, ask yourself: how long will my trip be?  Are you travelling on a weekend getaway, or will your trip be a week long or even longer? The answers will help you figure out the  type and number of bags you will have to bring with you to the airport, as well as he nature of items you will be packing.  Please keep in mind that less is more for most destinations This caveat holds true particularly when it comes to luggage fees.  Many airport car service clients we have interviewed try to pack everything into two carry-ons. They often cluster groups of clothing or any cloth or fabric items into a Space bag.

Place Electronics On the Top

Pack all of your cables, chargers and similar gadgets into a bag and make them the final items you put in the case. It’s a smart idea to have that ganglion of potentially suspicious-looking cables in one easy-to-reach  location-it makes those pesky TSA inspections much easier.

Turn Your Carry-On Into A Best Friend On WheelsDelsey Helium Fusion Carry on

As it goes, the heavier the bag, the fewer things you’ll be able to put in it. Look for bag that does not add a lot of weight itself, such as the Delsey Helium Fusion Carry-on which only weighs only 9 lbs.

On most airlines, the carry-on bag should be no larger than 45 linear inches and fit in an overhead compartment or under the seat. Linear size is made up of the length + width + height

 

Invest in The Right Travel Gadgets

One neat  gadget for carry-ons that can help you zip through airport security check points quicker is the Scanner Bag luggage tag. Many of our car service clients have used it on several trips nowscannerbag luggage tag and can’t stop talking about it.  It’s ideal for grouping all the items that you usually have in your pockets like cell phone, keys, and wallet. Isolataing all those items in one place instead of spread out all over  those filthy  plastic bins makes things easier, more sanitary and lets you gather yourself in a snap once you make it through security.

 

Pack Like a Flight Attendant

The New York Times featured an article that highlighted the packing strategies of flight-attendant Heather Poole, who basically lives out of her carry-on for over a week at a time. With baggage fees on the rise, knowing how to pack your carry-on like a pro can save you save you time and money. Here’s how she does it:

Heather rolls her clothes to avoid wrinkles and make economical use of space. By rolling several garments together rather than packing them flat, you are able to fit quite a bit more in and it distributes the weight more evenly. Here’s a key point: set those rolls to the side once you’ve created them. She puts her shoes in first then starts adding heavier layers of rolled clothing. She then continues putting clothing in order of heaviest to lightest. For example, pants go in first because they’re bulkier and larger, then comes the  lighter shirts, followed by undergarments. This arrangement also makes it easier for the items to compress when the suitcase closes. Toiletries and other items should definitely go on top because most toiletry bags often have some form of liquid in them and may need to be removed during security screenings.

Packing the same items, using any other technique can result in a suit case that will not close. Next time you pack, make sure you roll your clothing and pack from heaviest to lightest in order to easily fit everything you need.

What are some of your secret travel tips? Let’s hear ’em in the comments!

 

Special thanks: Adam Dachis
Images: theweek.com, ebags.com, amazon.com, jaunted.com

Don’t Call Her a Secretary: Executive Assistant Confidential

LA Limo Assistant

The Gatekeeper

Whether a Los Angeles car service is looking to bid for a large scale corporate account with a company such as Discovery communications or is seeking clients in the local business travel market, there comes a moment where each sales rep will come into contact with the mightiest of gatekeepers.  This is someone to be feared and respected: the Executive Assistant

Maintaining a large scale corporate account requires more than just a friendly rapor; it involves a strong foundation based on relationship building skills and consistent delivery of quality service.  Most executive assistants are often juggling three tasks or more at a time. What they want is consistent, hassle free car service that is completed without incident each time, every time-especially with principals of the account.  There are very few second chances for a Los Angeles Limousine Service when dealing with a high stakes account.   Make no bones about it; if you make their job any harder than it needs to be, an executive assistant will see to it that you are replaced.

Building and Maintaining Relationships

Providing chauffeur driven service to a major corporate account requires the maintenance of a living, breathing relationship as opposed to just placing reservations. Whether it be a small, mid-sized or larger car service, the necessity for maintaining a transparent and freely communicative relationship cannot be understated.  This may include often include face time during lunch meetings,where performance reviews of any recent incidents can be brought to light.  Any questionable blips on the track record of a town car service can be addressed face to face and figured out together.  It’s also a chance to work on establishing fluid lines of communication; both in person and electronically.

While some assistants may prefer correspondence and bookings to be completed electronically (email, text and web portal), business boils down to individuals, and the relationships that they make and maintain

 A Nation Of Assistants

There is not a single fortune 500 company on the top of their game today that could have made it without their Assistants. Irrespective of the wordplay attached to their various titles, they play a pivotal role in the corporate business world. There are numerous types of assistants, such as Executive, Administrative or Personal. Their job description is simple: handle and take care of all the internal mechanisms that allows an Executive’s day to run fluidly. They are often called the “worker bees of the business hive”. You may receive an order one day from a A.A. and think that they’re  identifying as a recovered alcoholic. An Administrative Assistant-as they are often referred to- are just one of many titles that anyone in the Limo Service industry better get to know-and fast!

Personal Assistant

Handles the light work in an individual’s business, and private life; running errands, scheduling appointments for a salon, setting up a round of golf with their bosses’ clients. The job is often more personal in function, as it often delves into the non-professional needs and desires of the client that is served.

Executive (Administrative) Assistant

Work with high-level executives. They usually have a college degree and are trusted with very high stakes affairs of the executive they work for. Their tone, when spoken on behalf of the boss, reflects the voice, vision and direction of the Executives they work for. An EA is the behind the scenes guardian of an Executive’s business life. They are essentially trained to deal with anything that may impede the productivity of his day.

Office Assistant

Provides a varied level of support in the office by filing, data entry, making copies, sending faxes and answering phones. They may be tasked for light errands  in some companies, but may also be given deadlines on various short term projects

Marketing Assistant

Works in the marketing division of a company. Their job covers everything from overseeing productions timetables to managing deadlines with outside vendors. The marketing work they handle may include work with TV, video, or multi media web productions.

Production Assistant

These assistants usually reside in the film or television industry and manage the various facets of a successful production. They are often given the title of PAs and might be given the tasks of managing a certain segment of a work in progress. For example, the transportation needs of a special guest on a cooking show might be handled by a PA.  PAs also make sure guests are on time for their appearance on set.

Virtual Assistant

There are two types of virtual assistants in our modern age.  The first are the kind of virtual assistants we see on devices, such as “Siri”. Hopefully, you won’t have to book car service to the airport with Siri in the near future. The second type is a person that often works from ‘the comfort’ of their own home as an assistant to various groups and individuals that contract the assistants to answer phone lines and handle light administrative duties from a remote location. Smaller offices may employ virtual assistants to book travel arrangements.

Administrative Assistant

An Administrative assistant handles task such as filing and typing and must be thoroughly computer literate and have great phone etiquette.  While they are often in charge of booking appointments and arranging travel itineraries for a company or individual, their function is critical to many of the company’s day to day mechanics. The position was once called a “secretary,” which is now considered patronizing and “old-school.”

Ease Their Burden

Many Administrative Assistants I interviewed for this article have the tremendous responsibility of handling travel arrangements for their department.  When booking car service or hotel accommodations, they want to know that everything will go as planned and that reservations and confirmations are checked and then checked again.  Many Assistants have told me that building and maintaining a personal relationship with a Limo vendor inspires the confidence that their boss will not be let down.  And that someone they can call a “friend” from consistent and repetitive contact will have their back and ensure that no snafus will occur.

Making It Right 

The truth is that the the Los Angeles Limo industry is run by humans, not robots. So when human errors do occur during travel, it’s often up to the Assistant to make it right- immediately. A serious service issue could mean the end of the relationship. Yet in a strong and well maintained relationship, two-way communication should be swift and forthcoming.  Honest and transparency should be practiced to handle any shortcomings and a new and improved system of checks and balances should be instituted post-incident.

Common Gifting Mistakes

Contrary to popular belief, sending gifts to assistants is not always the brightest idea. Some corporations forbid employees from accepting gifts that might be considered a kick-back.  Although you may be tempted to send flowers, ask before committing a faux pas. However, comping a limousine to an assistant on her anniversary could be an appropriate gesture, if allowed.  The gesture may also give the assistant a chance to see your chauffeur service from a business point of view and experience the quality of the same top tier service you give to her boss. What they really want, however is that you help make their jobs as uncomplicated as possible.

 

Special Thanks: Jimm Luff
Image: thecubiclerebel.wordpress.com

Airline Codesharing: The Naked Truth

codesharing business travel

The Truth About Airline Codesharing

One of the prime examples of consumer confusion and pain is airline codesharing. Many of our Los Angeles Limo passengers have shared their recent experiences with us -as much out of frustration as confusion. One passenger recently booked a flight on Continental Airlines, but after the merger, it became a United Airlines flight. When he looked closer at his reservation, it said “Expressjet Airlines Inc. doing business as United Express” — two completely new airlines.

 “Is that a codesharing flight?” he asked. “And if so, is it something I need to be worried about?”

 Yes, it is. And yes, anyone who is concerned about transparency and consumer best practices should care about it.

Perhaps I can share our Limo passenger’s perspective on codesharing: It’s a lie.

Lack of Transparency

Airline spin doctors have done a pretty darn good job persuading regulators and the flying public that codesharing is good. They use vague catch phrases like “synergy” and guaranty customers nonexistent benefits.

If A traveler purchases a ticket on United Airlines, They expect to fly on United Airlines-not  Expressjet or Volaris. If they wanted to fly on one of those airlines, They would have their travel agent book them on one of those flights, wouldn’t They?

Maybe my viewpoint is antiquated, but when I make a reservation at the Ritz Carlton I expect to stay in a building that says “Ritz Carlton” on it; when I rent a Hertz car, I expect to pick it up from an office that says “Hertz” on it; and when I buy a ticket on United Air Lines, I expect the plane to say “United Air Lines.”

Read the Small Print

The FAA has given the airline industry an artistic license to lie.  When an airline does reveal a codeshare it’s almost nonexistent — more of an afterthought, in small print.  The bottom line is that if an airline doesn’t have the resources or capability to operate the flight itself and has to outsource it to another competing company, then it should be plainly stated as such to the consumer.

With air travel, what you see ain’t always what you get. Yet one more reason to remember to read the fine print. 

Basically what’s happening in the airline industry is that airlines are unequivocally lying by pretending other companies’ products are its own – It’s nothing more than a clever trick they call “codesharing”

Meet  Mr. Smith

Let’s just call him “Mr. Smith”.  He’s a regular Executive Limo client of ours that reserved a round-trip flight on American Airlines from New York to London. At least that’s what he thought.

In truth the flight was actually operated by American’s codeshare partner, British Airways. Mr. Smith had paid $120 for “preferred” seats, which on the AA.com site, looked pretty inviting.

“Then I got on the plane,” he said. “These preferred seats were behind the wall of a toilet. So for eight long hours I heard flushing, door opening and closing, people standing in line to get to the one of only two bathrooms in coach. I could not even sleep.”

On the American Airlines website, it didn’t make mention of the toilets. But on the British Airways site, he says, they were clearly highlighted, and he would have definitely not paid the additional upgrade cost for the seats.

That’s just one of the many nightmares of airline codesharing, which I choose to call an outright lie. Many airline apologists, say codesharing allows travelers  to fly to more destinations, collect more award miles, and get better service.

Each of those arguments is arguably erroneous .

But before I get to that proving that, let me explain what occurred to Mr. Smith when he complained. He deduced that since some of the “benefits” of the AA preferred seat had gotten ‘lost in translation’, the airline would be happy to refund the $120 he’d paid.

He sent a simple, polite e-mail to the airline.

This was their response:

While many customers have found this service to be a convenient option, we know that each of our customers values different parts of the overall travel experience, and all of our Your Choice travel services are optional,” it replied. “This allows us to keep our fares low, while offering the individual products and services that our customers value.”

American refused to refund the fee.  “I feel deceived,” he said.

Top Worst Complaints with Codesharing

The codeshare experience Mr. Smith shared with me is small potatoes in the big picture. Mr. Smith even conceded himself that his assistant may have simply misunderstood the preferred seating option on the airline’s convoluted site. It gets even uglier when baggage is lost and airline codeshare partners start playing hot potato with baggage accountability.  What usually happens is they reroute the customer complaint to each other until the passengers resigns in disgust. It’s also tricky when each airline “partner” has different luggage allowances or ticket rules, and plays with them to their own advantage.

It’s very easy to get lost in a “no-man’s land” between codeshare partners, where no airline is willing to take accountability for anything. (Think I’m over reacting? I know of two separate travel agents right now that are wrangling a doozy of an incident involving three codeshare partners and a missing refund. No one is willing to pony up-what a nightmare for everyone involved!)

Three Codesharing Myths Busted

Before I Step down from my soap box, let me address a few of the myths surrounding codesharing

Myth: Codesharing allows you more access to more destinations.

Fact: Nope. The airline you’re booking a ticket with is still headed to the same number of cities. Its codeshare “partners” are servicing the remainder and allowing the airline “partner” to claim those destinations as its own. That is a lie.

Myth: Codesharing allows you to collect and redeem more award miles.

Fact: Seriously? Try redeeming your well deserved frequent-flier points for a flight and tell me how that works out for you. Unless you’re a master of adaptation or have an extensive knowledge base of programs and codeshare partnerships, you’re going to feel like a chump for having believed that argument. It’s meaningless lip service

Myth: Codesharing improves service.

Fact: Nope again!. Codesharing  gives your airline license to offer sub-par service and then transfers the blame to an airline partner for its own gaff.

The Bottom line

Lying is wrong, even when airlines do it, and even when they say it’s for the good of their passengers-especially when they say it’s for the good of their passengers.

When government agencies sanction the airlines to fib… uh, I mean, codeshare, they do something very important.  Something that travelers barely notice: They stop competing. Fewer competitors means a smaller market and fewer price options –great for airlines, not so much for travelers.

 

special thanks: frommers.com 
Image: msnbc.msn.com

Top 10 Travel Gadgets For Kids

Travelling With Kidstrunki

More than 34 million Americans are estimated to be traveling far from home this Holiday Seasons. Let’s face it Tickle Me Elmo just isn’t as stimulating for the little ones as it used to be.  Today’s kids are faster, smarter and in need of more advanced and intuitive gadgets to keep them busy, entertained and stimulated.  When packing for your travels this season choose from these top 10 gadgets to keep your kids busy while you’re jet setting.

 

 

 Travel Kiddy Kids Travel Journal:  5+Travel Kiddi travel journal

This one is great for older kids that want to keep track of their journey. The customizable travel journal has sections for their favorite places that they have visited as well memorable activities, even a section for maps.  This travel journal gives kids a chance to be creative and put together a unique memento of their adventure. $10.00

Travelkiddy.com

 

Me Vs. You: Head-to-Head Brain Races: 8+Me vs. You Head-to-Head

One Common problem of traveling with older kids is boredom—boredom leads to restlessness and restlessness leads to trouble.  Help your kids avoid boredom with this set of two connected activity pads split down the middle.  The design allows two kids to race each other in competing challenges. Game challenges include: a scavenger hunt, puzzles, word searches, jumbles and speed mazes. The set comes with the two activity pads and two pencils. $10.99

Klutz.com

 

Colorforms® 60th Anniversary Edition: 3+colorforms

An exact mockup of the original 1951 product, this spiral book comes with over 300 brilliantly colored Colorforms pieces. Kids can artfully arrange the pieces that stick to any smooth surface in a variety of shapes and sizes. $39.99

Colorforms.com  

 

One Step Ahead Kids Travel Easel/Art Desk:2+One Step Ahead kids travel easel and art desk

Pack this portable pop-up-art easel and can keep your budding Rembrandt busy for hours on end. The top opens up to form a two-sided easel with whiteboard and chalkboard surfaces for scribbling. An added feature that has parents raving is the carrying case that has a special compartment for art supplies.  It can even serve as a trusty travel desk. $39.95

Onestepahead.com

 

Melissa and Doug’s Trunki: 2-5Mellisa and Doug's Trunki+

The vibrant colors of these Trunki suitcases are second only to the unique and thoughtful design.  Complete with rolling wheels these sturdy adult like rolling bags are designed with safety in mind as well.  Kids can even sit on top and take a slow, short ride. They are carry-on approved and can hold up to 75 lbs. of kids travel essentials. $34.95

Fatbraintoys.com

 

Contigo AUTOSEAL® Kids Trekker Cup: 3-12contigo kids autoseal trekker cup

Once your kids are too grown up for Sippy cups, they will want to use a more advanced drinking design. As we all know, drinks have a nasty habit of spilling during travel. This cup’s smart shape makes it spill-resistant and simple for kids to hold. $11.99 for a two-pack, $6.99 individually.

GoContigo.com

 

Kidz Gear Volume Limit Headphones: 3+kidz gear headphones

These are among the hottest selling items in the apple market-seeing as how they’re the first over-the-ear headphones designed with kids in mind.  Features include: a special volume limiting control that maintains volume at a safe level, giving you one less thing to worry about. There’s even a built in mic and separate remote for no hassle parental adjustments.$29.95

Apple.com

 

Wean Green Lunch Cubes: 4+wean green lunch cubes

These colorful tempered glass food containers are ideal for family trips with kids. Its snap-lock lid keeps healthy snacks in one place—namely not all over the seat. $17.99 for a pack of 2.

WeanGreen.com

 

QuickSmart 3-in-1 Travel Bassinet: 0-1QuickSmart 3 in 1 Travel Bassinet

This smart convertible travel companion for the new mom is feature rich. The Travel Bassinet converts from a clean changing station to a diaper bag, to a properly structured bassinet. Features include: Diaper bag, changing station even an Organizer for baby essentials.  This Bassinet is compact & flat when folded and uses easy-wear fabric and washable 100% cotton sheets. $89.99

Quicksmartgo.com

 

 SweetPea3 MP3 Music Player: 0-6SweetPea3 Mp3 player for kids

A personal music player is a wondrous and stimulating thing for a child.  With the SweetPea3 kids can learn, listen and discover music and stories at their own pace.  The SweetPea3 MP3 Player is easy to use and can play MP3, iTunes, WMA and Audible formats.  The Intuitive user design includes a  2GB memory (holds over 700 songs) and comes with a USB cable  As an added bonus all units comes preloaded with 4 stories by children’s author Jim Weiss and 8 children’s songs by Susie Tallman and Friends   $59.99

Sweetpeaytoyco.com

 

 

Special thanks:Travelandleisure.com
images: Travelkiddy.com,Sweetpeaytoyco.com,Quicksmartgo.com,WeanGreen.com,Apple.com,GoContigo.comGoContigo.com, fatbraintoys.comOnestepahead.com,Colorforms.com, klutz.com,travelkiddy.com

An Insider’s Guide to Traveling with Pets

Pet Travel

Traveling with a pet can be challenging, especially considering the overwhelming abundance of new rules.  Kelly E. Carter, president of thejetsetpets.com and AOL’s pet travel expert, and Sheron Long, international traveler extraordinaire and author of “Dog Trots Globe — To Paris and Provence,” share some of their secrets:

 — Know the weight, age and kennel size and closure restrictions for the airline you’re flying.

 — Due to recent incidents Some carriers, including American Airlines no longer transport short nosed breed Canines, Check with your airline regarding specific restrictions

— Carry a file that includes your pet’s vaccination records, proof of rabies, contact info for your vet, a photo of your pet, a list of any meds, and even some references from hotel concierges where you and your pet have stayed before

— Do your homework before you depart and always book early. Airlines offer a restricted number of cabin spots for pets, and they fill up fast.

— Find out about frequent flier miles, since those policies can change with each airline.

— Try to fly nonstop.

 —Several airlines may have restricitions on checked in pets flying in cargo if the Destination city atmospheric tempurature is below a threshold temperature. Make sure to verify with your airline.

— For international travelers, each country has its own rules and regulations, regarding animal quarantine periods and required paperwork. Muster up some preparation and lots of patience.

— Airline Fees vary for pets, so have your pocketbook or credit card ready at the airport.

— Know exactly how much legroom you will have under the seat-this is where most airlines will make room for your pet. Seatguru.com lists the dimensions of any seat on almost all aircrafts.

— Ask for a window seat to avoid your pet getting jostled around when other passengers want to leave their seats.

— Food is not allowed inside of actual pet carriers but tape a Baggie to the outside just in case your flight is delayed or if it the duration of the flight is longer than 12 hours.

— To prevent any messy ‘accidents’, don’t give water or food to your pet in-flight. Use ice cubes and let the animal lick them as needed. Some also swear by using a moistened piece of natural sponge placed in the kennel.

— Do not feed your pet a sedative; most airlines will not take an animal under sedation

 —Most airlines will not be able to check in pets curbside.  Grab a skycap(located curbside) for assistance with checking in any large Kenneled pets and head straight to the airline check-in desk.

— If your pet is flying in cargo, ask the conditions it will be transported in from the terminal to the aircraft. Some airlines have air-conditioned or heated transport vehicles.

— Place an article of bedding or a toy inside the kennel with your pet, this has been shown to comfort and reassure pets while separated from their owners.

— Check Petflight.com for various airline rules involving pets.

 Image:heartofchelsea.com Special thanks:foxnews.com