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Airlines Ease Restrictions on Electronic Devices

Phones AllowedSince the FAA ruled that radio signals from personal electronic devices didn’t pose a threat to aircraft safety during takeoff and landing, the majority of airlines have quickly changed their policies.  Delta, JetBlue, American, United, Alaska, US Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Virgin America have all loosened their restrictions on the use of personal electronics during flight.  However, Southwest Airlines is the first U.S. airline (and likely the only one for some time) to provide the option of gate-to-gate Wi-Fi Internet service.  That’s because it uses a satellite technology that differs from the air-to-ground technology used by Gogo, which powers the inflight Wi-Fi for most other airlines.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • The TSA said that JetBlue Airways would join its roster of airlines participating in its Pre-Check airport security program.  JetBlue is the ninth airline to be included, joining Southwest, which announced its participation last week, Alaska, American (which now also includes US Airways), Delta, Hawaiian, United and Virgin America.  Pre-Check’s expedited security screening process allows travelers to leave their shoes, light outerwear and belts on, leave liquids and gels in carry-on bags and keep laptops in their cases as they move through security scanners.
The Transportation Security Administration said Thursday that JetBlue Airways would join its roster of airlines participating in its PreCheck airport security program. JetBlue is the ninth airline to be included, joining Southwest, which announced its participation last week, Alaska, American (which now also includes US Airways), Delta, Hawaiian, United and Virgin America.
PreCheck’s expedited security screening process allows travelers to leave their shoes, light outerwear and belts on, leave 3-1-1-compliant liquids and gels in carry-on bags and keep laptops in their cases as they move through security scanners.
  • According to Fast Company, the biggest improvements to the quality of airline food will have nothing to do with celebrity chefs or newly discovered tastes. It is technology that will improve the experience of in-flight dining. New planes like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner feature improved cabin pressurization systems that not only make passengers feel healthier, but improve cabin humidity up to 15%. This improvement in humidity makes it all the more likely that your sinuses will stay open in-flight. So, on newer planes like the 787, food will just taste better.
  • The Daily Beast recently named the 20 worst airports for Thanksgiving travel.  Here’s their “top” 5:    San Francisco (SFO), Chicago Midway (MDW), Newark (EWR), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Houston (HOU).   If you’re not flying through these airports next week – be thankful.

Yapta Signs Reseller Agreement with CWT

cwttttBig news!  Earlier today, CWT announced that it has launched a new airfare tracking solution, powered by Yapta FareIQ, that will provide U.S.-based clients the opportunity to capture savings when booked airfares drop in price.  Here’s what was announced in their press release:

“We are committed to providing our clients with innovative tools that drive efficiency in their travel programs,” said Patrice Simon, vice president, Innovation and Business Development for CWT. “This fare tracking solution provides real-time pricing on each Passenger Name Record (PNR), which can deliver significant cost savings for our clients.”
FareIQ’s patent-pending Intelligent Price TrackingTM technology provides in-depth, 24/7 analysis and insights into corporate airfares, spotlighting opportunities to re-book tickets at lower prices, saving corporations crucial travel dollars on a daily basis. The solution will integrate seamlessly with the workflow of CWT travel counselors by dynamically monitoring pricing on individual PNRs. Upon recognizing a savings opportunity, CWT counselors will proactively re-ticket the reservation if the fare adjustment is in line with the client’s program policies, is appropriate for the traveler and results in net savings. This means that once a traveler has booked through their company’s preferred channel, no further action is necessary to re-ticket the lower fare should one become available.
CWT completed a successful pilot program in 2013 with select clients. “Savings opportunities in mature travel programs can be limited. Having completed a pilot program with CWT and Yapta, I’m confident that the new fare tracking solution will provide savings to our travel program with no disruption to the traveler,” said Pam Massey, senior manager of Global Travel for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Travelers may even gain a renewed confidence in booking through the corporate program knowing that they will be ticketed a lower price should one come available.”
“We’re very proud to have one of the world’s leading travel management companies as a reseller of FareIQ,” said James Filsinger, CEO of Yapta. “We look forward to working closely with CWT to help their customers monitor the price of their fares more dynamically – and to help them realize unprecedented savings on their overall airfare spend.”

‘“We are committed to providing our clients with innovative tools that drive efficiency in their travel programs,” said Patrice Simon, vice president, Innovation and Business Development for CWT. “This fare tracking solution provides real-time pricing on each Passenger Name Record (PNR), which can deliver significant cost savings for our clients.”

FareIQ’s patent-pending Intelligent Price TrackingTM technology provides in-depth, 24/7 analysis and insights into corporate airfares, spotlighting opportunities to re-book tickets at lower prices, saving corporations crucial travel dollars on a daily basis. The solution will integrate seamlessly with the workflow of CWT travel counselors by dynamically monitoring pricing on individual PNRs. Upon recognizing a savings opportunity, CWT counselors will proactively re-ticket the reservation if the fare adjustment is in line with the client’s program policies, is appropriate for the traveler and results in net savings. This means that once a traveler has booked through their company’s preferred channel, no further action is necessary to re-ticket the lower fare should one become available.

CWT completed a successful pilot program in 2013 with select clients. “Savings opportunities in mature travel programs can be limited. Having completed a pilot program with CWT and Yapta, I’m confident that the new fare tracking solution will provide savings to our travel program with no disruption to the traveler,” said Pam Massey, senior manager of Global Travel for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Travelers may even gain a renewed confidence in booking through the corporate program knowing that they will be ticketed a lower price should one come available.”

“We’re very proud to have one of the world’s leading travel management companies as a reseller of FareIQ,” said James Filsinger, CEO of Yapta. “We look forward to working closely with CWT to help their customers monitor the price of their fares more dynamically – and to help them realize unprecedented savings on their overall airfare spend.”’


The Best Week of the Year to Book a Cruise

National Cruise Vacation WeekIf you’ve been thinking about taking a cruise, but didn’t think you could afford it – you may want to reconsider it next week.  The week of October 20-27 is National Cruise Vacation Week and most of the major names in the industry – like Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Princess Cruises – are participating by making you an offer you can’t refuse.  They’re all extending special offers like on-board credit, a percentage off the current cruise fare, complimentary cabin upgrades, reduced deposits, two-for-one cruise fares, free pre-/post-cruise hotel nights, and spa credits.  If you’re interested in staying in-the-know on what many call “The World’s Largest Cruise Sale,” you can register to receive cruise news and specials from participating cruises lines.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Southwest Airlines is set to participate in the TSA security pre-check program starting in mid-November.  TSA Pre-Check allows airline passengers who have gone through a screening process to use a faster dedicated security screening lane at airports. Those cleared to use the TSA Pre-Check security lane typically do not have to remove shoes or take their laptops and liquids from bags. Belts and light outerwear also do not have to be removed for security screening.
  • O’Hare International Airport has opened a second new runway that officials say will begin to ease the Chicago hub airport’s congestion and eliminate the flight delays that have a ripple effect across the country. Of the nation’s 29 busiest airports, O’Hare ranked dead last in on-time departures throughout the first seven months of this year, with only about 67 percent of flights taking off on schedule, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Wrestling to rip-off those sticky paper airline luggage tags could become a thing of the past.  British Airways has started customer-trials of new re-useable digital bag-tag.  The personalized electronic tag eliminates the need for a new paper version every time you fly.  It’s currently being tested by passengers flying in and out of Heathrow’s Terminal 5.  BA’s electronic bag-tag can be used by passengers who have their booking details sent to their smart-phone using the British Airways app.  Perhaps we’ll see this technology come to the U.S. sometime soon?

FallSalesAlaska Airlines has launched an “End of Fall Sale” that enables travelers to get flights from $49 each-way for travel between October 10 and December 11.  There’s some nice deals to be had here:  Seattle to Vegas for $89 each way;  San Francisco to Portland for $69 each way; and Los Angeles to San Jose for $59 each way.  However, as with most airfare sales, the deals won’t last forever.  This sale ends at midnight (okay, 11:59 pm) PT on Thursday, October 3rd.  Also, some blackout dates do apply.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many hotels across the country are joining the cause with pink-themed promotions and fundraising events.  For example, at The Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle, customers can dine on sweet, conscientious confections, such as the pink lemon roulade cake filled with strawberry-lemon mousse. Ten percent of the price each dessert sold will go to Susan G. Komen Puget Sound, the Puget Sound area affiliate of Susan Komen for the Cure.
  • Looking to save on your flights for this coming holiday season?  Well, here are some handy tips.  (Of course it includes using Yapta!)

National Rental Car Offers Free Rental Days

rental-cars-02Looking to cut your rental car costs?  Well, National Rental Car is offering a free rental day after completing two qualifying rentals.  (They’re considering one “qualifying rental” as two or more days in a mid-sized car.)  National is calling the promotion OneTwoFree and it runs through the end of January.  So, if you’re a frequent business traveler – or if you’re planning a leisurely week away – you should have enough time to score some free rental days.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Wanna get a preview of the new JetBlue premium lie-flat “suite” seats that will be coming to the airline’s brand new Airbus A321s in May 2014?  Check it out here.  The seats will debut on trans-con flights between JFK and LAX, and JFK and SFO.
  • If reducing your carbon footprint is a priority, Alaska Airlines may be the carrier for you. In its first efficiency study, the International Council on Clean Transportation ranked the Seattle-based carrier as the nation’s most fuel-efficient major airline, followed by low-cost Spirit Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. According to the study, Alaska was 26% more fuel-efficient than the least efficient airline, Allegiant Air.
  • A report released this week by the U.S. Travel Association finds that peak wait times to go through customs and border patrol at some major airports hit nearly 5 hours this year. Miami International, New York’s John F. Kennedy and Chicago’s O’Hare had some of the worst wait times. What’s more, the report concludes that unless officials take action like hiring new agents and investing in new technology, these numbers may climb even higher: By 2021, there may be 13.8 million more visitors coming through JFK, 10.5 million more through Miami and 9.6 million more through Los Angeles.

Airfare Prices Dropping In Time for the Holidays?

air-trafficAccording to research firm Innovata, airplane capacity is once again on the rise.  Between October and December it estimates that U.S. airlines will offer 1.3 percent more flights to travelers.  So, why should you care?  Well, eliminating capacity (the number of planes flying to duplicate destinations) was a technique airlines used to cut fuel and operations costs.  They could just pack more travelers into the same planes and charge higher prices.  Generally speaking a reduction in capacity limits options for consumers and can result in higher fares – while increases in capacity increases options and can result in lower fares.  This means that this could be the year you fly for Christmas or Thanksgiving without paying top dollar.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Hate flying with kids and infants?  A handful of Asian carriers are starting to introduce “no kids” sections on their flights.  Malaysia Airlines and now Scoot, the low-cost subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, have both introduced child-free seating areas.  Let’s see what happens when mommy decides to take her little one for a stroll through the no-kids section on one of these flights.
According to research firm Innovata, airplane capacity is once again on the rise. Between October and December it estimates that U.S. airlines will offer 1.3 percent more flights to travelers.
  • Some significant changes are coming to an airline seat near you.  In September, Delta will begin receiving the first of dozens of Boeing jets with power outlets at seats throughout the plane.  And next year, JetBlue will introduce lie-flat seats on non-stop flights between New York and Los Angeles, and New York and San Francisco.  Earlier this year, United began featuring slimmer seats on its Airbus fleet, offering more legroom despite squeezing on extra seats.  It will soon be offering these seats on all 152 of its Airbus planes.
  • Airlines are still tinkering with boarding processes, trying to get you on and off more efficiently.  Alaska Airlines has been experimenting with opening two doors (a novel concept) – one at the front of the plane, and one at the rear.  American Airlines is experimenting with letting those who checked their bag or, in some cases, those with just one bag they’ll put under the seat, board first.  Ideally, these passengers will simply walk to their row and sit down.  The airlines says the technique is occasionally abused by somebody who hoists a carry-on in the overhead bin, but overall it’s shaved a few minutes off the boarding process.

FareIQ logoYapta announced today that it has launched its Intelligent Price Tracking service, FareIQ, on the Apollo GDS platform.  With FareIQ, leading travel management corporations such as Omega World Travel, a global company headquartered in Fairfax, VA, and a number of large multi-national corporations are now able to achieve greater levels of airfare savings utilizing the Apollo GDS.

“By launching FareIQ on the Apollo GDS platform, we’ve broadened the market for our technology and opened the door to greater airfare savings for a number of large travel organizations,” said James Filsinger, Yapta President and CEO.  “We look forward to working with Apollo customers, and demonstrating the same level of airfare savings we’ve successfully delivered for companies that have used FareIQ on the Sabre GDS platform.”

FareIQ’s patent-pending Intelligent Price Tracking technology provides in-depth, 24×7 analysis and insights into corporate airfares, spotlighting opportunities to re-book tickets at lower prices, saving corporations crucial T&E dollars on a daily basis.  The solution integrates seamlessly with agents’ workflow by dynamically monitoring pricing on individual passenger name records (PNRs) that are placed on a queue by the corporation or its travel management company.  Upon recognizing a savings opportunity, FareIQ immediately issues a series of messages, including email alerts, a FareIQ web portal notification, and remarks posted directly in the PNR, that enables those savings to be acted upon by an agent or a travel manager.

Companies that have chosen to have their airfare prices tracked independently by FareIQ are seeing an opportunity to save on more than 11% of their overall itineraries – and are averaging real savings of $159 per itinerary.  To date, FareIQ customers have saved a combined total of more than $1 million in airfare.

“We take tremendous pride in working with our customers to strip away costs and make their travel operation more efficient,” said Joan Meagher, Vice President of Account Management at Omega World Travel. “FareIQ is proving to be an excellent source of savings that can have a dramatic impact on our clients’ airfare costs and bottom line.”

concur_logoYapta today announced that it has closed a $4.2 million Series D funding round with the option to raise an additional $2 million over the next 90 days.  The financing round was led by Concur (Nasdaq: CNQR), the leader in integrated travel and expense management solutions, through the Concur Perfect Trip Fund.

“This funding will enable us to build upon our investment in FareIQ, further strengthening our position as the industry leader in Intelligent Price Tracking for corporate airfare,” said James Filsinger, CEO of Yapta. “Not only will we be able to expedite sales and the implementation cycles for our customers, but we will enhance our sales and marketing efforts and pursue other opportunities in corporate price tracking.”

FareIQ’s patent-pending Intelligent Price TrackingTM technology provides in-depth, 24×7 analysis and insights into corporate airfares, spotlighting opportunities to re-book tickets at lower prices, saving corporations crucial T&E dollars on a daily basis.  The solution integrates seamlessly with agents’ workflow by dynamically monitoring pricing on individual passenger name records (PNRs) that are placed on a queue by the corporation or its travel management company.  Upon recognizing a savings opportunity, FareIQ immediately issues a series of messages, including email alerts, a FareIQ web portal notification, and remarks posted directly in the PNR, that enables those savings to be acted upon by an agent or a travel manager.  To date, FareIQ customers have saved a combined total of more than $1 million in airfare.

“The Yapta team has done an excellent job of building and servicing the FareIQ customer base consisting of high-profile enterprise organizations and leading travel management organizations,” said John Torrey, Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy at Concur.  “Our additional investment in Yapta will enable the organization to build upon their initial success and continue to bring airfare price tracking to the forefront of travel management best practices.”

Hot Days in NYC Mean Cheap jetBlue Flights

thermometerjetBlue is cashing in on the summer heat in New York City, offering  90% off on some tickets on days the temperature hits 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  On days the thermostat reaches 90 degrees in Central Park, jetBlue will release the Hot Seats promo codes.  The tickets are good for round-trips from JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark to about 50 destinations.  The promotion runs through July 20th.

And for those of you who do not live in The Big Apple, jetBlue is currently in the final hours of another 48-hour sale, called “The Bet Your Autumn Dollar Sale.”  Yep, you guessed it – the discount is for Fall travel dates (September 3 – November 20), but you gotta book by midnight tonight.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Marriott Rewards and United MileagePlus, the loyalty program of United Airlines, are joining forces to provide the most loyal members of both the hotel and airline loyalty programs with new travel benefits.  A joint program called “Rewards Plus” will offer Marriott Rewards Platinum Elite members the additional benefit of MileagePlus Silver level status.
  • There’s a new service called Easynest that has found a way – albeit a creepy way – to save 50% on their hotel stay.  The site capitalizes on the fact that most hotel rates are based on double occupancy, whether or not there are two occupants.  By finding someone to share the room and the cost – which Easynest does – rates are cut in half.
  • Uber, the popular taxi-hailing service, has become the first company to be approved under New York’s new pilot program, which will allow selected companies to offer smartphone apps that let customers hail a cab from their phones.  A big win for technology and making travel easier!

FareIQ logoYapta announced a milestone earlier this week.   It’s enterprise customers using FareIQ, Yapta’s corporate airfare price tracking solution, have saved a combined total of more than $1 million in airfare.  To date, companies that have chosen to have their airfare prices tracked independently by FareIQ have saved an average of $159 per itinerary.

“FareIQ has revealed a significant area of uncharted savings for our corporate travel clients,” said Michel Botbol, COO of Ultramar, a FareIQ solution provider.  “We are constantly looking at innovative technologies that reduce our client’s travel spend, and FareIQ’s ability to deliver actionable pricing data on each PNR has shown it can have a material impact from an overall cost savings standpoint.  The solution’s fully transparent and detailed reporting provides essential validation and accountability of the actual bottom line savings.  We’re excited to introduce this intelligent price tracking technology to additional customers, providing them with greater visibility into price volatility and the ability to act on any potential savings.”

FareIQ’s patent-pending Intelligent Price TrackingTM technology provides in-depth, 24×7 analysis and insights into corporate airfares, spotlighting opportunities to re-book tickets at lower prices, saving corporations crucial T&E dollars on a daily basis.  The solution integrates seamlessly with agents’ workflow by dynamically monitoring pricing on individual passenger name records (PNRs) that are placed on a queue by the corporation or its travel management company.  Upon recognizing a savings opportunity, FareIQ immediately issues a series of messages, including email alerts, a FareIQ web portal notification, and remarks posted directly in the PNR, that enables those savings to be acted upon by an agent or a travel manager.

“While enabling our FareIQ customers to achieve $1 million in airfare savings is a significant milestone for Yapta, it represents just a fraction of the total dollars that could be saved if every company took advantage of our innovative solution,” said James Filsinger, President and CEO of Yapta. “Driven by our singular purpose to save our customers money, FareIQ is able to deliver hard dollar savings that can have a significant impact on the bottom line.  For example, a company that spends $10 million a year on air travel could see savings of more than $30,000 every month.  Tracking airfare prices with FareIQ should be a part of every corporate travel program’s best practices.  Any large travel organization that is not using FareIQ, I guarantee is leaving money on the table.”

Companies adopting FareIQ are also seeing an opportunity to save on more than 10% of their overall itineraries.  To date, FareIQ has tracked nearly $160 million in airfare spend for its customers.  Any savings identified by FareIQ on behalf of its customers are over and above any airline imposed change fees and agency re-booking fees, ensuring customers see true value to their bottom line.

For more information on how FareIQ can deliver real savings to managed travel programs, visit FareIQ.Yapta.com.